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The Conversation

Vacation Rental Advocate Wants DPP to Enforce Existing Law Before Adding More Rules

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More than 200 people testified Wednesday before the City and County of Honolulu's Planning Commission on the second day of public hearings for a bill that would implement more regulations for short-term rentals.

Resident frustrations surrounding tourism and short-term rentals led to the creation and passage of Bill 89 in 2019. It limits the number of permits the city issues, sets distance requirements between rentals, and only allows units in resort zoned areas

Two years later, the city’s Department of Planning and Permitting is reevaluating the law, and how to regulate the rentals going forward.

The revised bill before the commission would change the restriction of a short-term rental to 180 days. Under current law, owners without a special permit are allowed to book a property to one guest or group for a minimum of 30 days, regardless of whether the guest stays there the whole time.

The proposal also expands the resort district in Waikīkī to include the mauka side of Kūhiō Avenue and the area realtors call the "Gold Coast." It also expands the resort areas at Kuilima, Ko Olina and Mākaha.

Milo Spindt was one of the many groups weighing in on the measure, making a case against the latest proposal. Spindt is with Elite Pacific Properties and is also the head of Hawaii Legal Short Term Rental Alliance.

"Myself and our company, Elite Pacific, as well as HILSTRA support, completely support enforcing shutting down illegal vacation rentals. We do not support it, we feel like they give the industry a bad name. And we completely support the Department of Planning and Permitting enforcing Ordinance 19-18 to shut down illegal operators," he said.

He said the city hasn’t used information made available by Airbnb and Expedia to identify and shut down illegal rentals.

"We're just asking, listen, we know there are people out there who do nightly and weekly rentals that are against the law. And what we'd like you to do before you throw the baby out with the bathwater is we'd like you to enforce the existing law. Let's work on that first," Spindt told The Conversation.

Spindt claimed military families, neighbor island visitors, traveling nurses and more would be impacted by the proposed restrictions.

However, the DPP added exceptions to the 180-day restriction for temporary employees and patients at health care facilities, full-time students, full-time remote workers, military personnel, homeowners in transition, and more.

"Short-term rentals are disruptive to the character and fabric of our residential neighborhoods; they are inconsistent with the land uses that are intended for our residential zoned areas and increase the price of housing for Oahu’s resident population by removing housing stock from the for-sale and long-term rental markets," the proposed bill states. "The City Council finds that any economic benefits of opening up our residential areas to tourism are far outweighed by the negative impacts to our neighborhoods and local residents."

The Planning Commission will meet again on Sept. 29 to vote on the measure. If advanced, it will go before the Honolulu City Council for further review.

Milo Spindt's interview aired on The Conversation on Sept. 9, 2021. The Conversation plans to hear from different voices as this hot button topic makes its way through the city process.

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